Cricket fans love to compare one player to another and lately Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam is the hottest topic of argument. While Indian captain Virat Kohli is already one of the greatest in the business, the Pakistani skipper is shaping his legacy. Both are being compared for quite some time but the T20 World Cup 2021 has aired this debate to higher levels.
Azam just equaled Kohli’s record for 4 50s scored in a single T20 World Cup competition and gave the analysts some reasons to draw this comparison. He scored his 4th half-century of the tournament against Scotland on 7th November, in which Pakistan ended up with an impressive 189/4. Yet, it is too early to compare the 32-year-old Kohli to the 26-year-old Azam. The Indian has been playing at much bigger platforms for a good amount of time while Azam is just booming into an international player.
Virat Kohli played his first ODI in 2008, whereas Babar Azam in 2015. After 3 years Virat played his first Test match in 2011 while Babar only had to wait 17 months to play his first Test match in 2016. Babar’s T20I debut was also in 2016 while Kohli had been playing T20Is since 2010. Some might say that the overall comparison between the two at this stage is unfair but it looks quite promising.
Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam Overall Batting Stats
Even though both of these players are not the biggest hitters in their respective teams, their consistency makes them the best, especially for the T20 format. Currently, Azam is also on top of the ICC Players Ranking for T20 Batsmen. Virat Kohli was the number 1 ICC ODI Batsman for a long time till Azam took that spot as well in 2018. So, if Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam is about the current ranking in the world then that Azam seems to be ahead.
After leading the international ICC Player Rankings in 2 formats, the captain is eyeing to win the T20 World Cup after getting through the Semi-Final against Australia on 11th November. However, the Pakistani captain has yet to crack the code of chasing down tough scores and winning big matches. His Indian counterpart is way ahead in that aspect, given the experience of playing all over the world and on different kinds of pitches. The cricket grounds of Arabia are like a second home to Pakistan and the flat pitch does not present any challenges as well.
The Real Game Changer
From overall stats, it seems clear that Azam has to go a long mile before reaching the level of Kohli. However, the numbers after 2019 may give a better outlook on why there is a comparison of Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam in the first place. The partial credit goes to the fact that Kohli has not been unable to score a century for the last 2 years. As a result, his average has suffered a lot across all formats.
Meanwhile, Azam shined through when was not even a captain at that time. He was giving the kind of performance in ODIs and Tests, that gave Pakistan hopes for its future in the big league. Only a handful of players like Kane Williamson, Rohit Sharma, Steve Smith, and Marnus Labuschagne scored higher average than Babar.
Kohli on the other hand was more dominant in T20Is while mostly playing against SENA nations (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia). 5 out of his 8 centuries have come from there.
What if Both Played Same Number of Matches?
To make Virat Kohli vs Babar Azam comparison more fun, let’s look at the stats of players at the same stage. It can be seen after 35 Tests, 83 ODIs, and 66 T20Is the chart is telling a very different story. Babar Azam appeared to have scored more runs in multiple competitions and even maintained a better average than Virat Kohli had at that stage.
The Pakistani skipper has been at advantage due to an apparent dip in Virat Kohli’s form since 2019. Kohli also started to skip T20I matches against the smaller teams which further pushed him down in terms of ranking. Meanwhile, Azam broke Kohli’s record of being the fastest player to reach 1,000 runs in the T20I series. It took Babar 26 innings to reach this milestone in 2018 whereas Kohli did in 2015 in 27 innings.
By looking at the numbers and global rankings, it is clear that Babar is the best batter today but overall, one cannot disregard Kohli for his pure dominance in chasing runs and unreal consistency. Cricket fans cannot forget how Kohli was the only player in the world in 2016 to have an average of 50 in all cricket formats.
The captain of the Indian cricket team has recently gone through horrible abuse online after the T20 World Cup defeat. A 23-year-old man, who just got arrested, hurled rape threats to Virat Kohli’s infant daughter on social media. He faced multiple charges including sexual harassment, criminal intimidation, defamation, and posting obscene material.